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Sculptures highlighting ordinary life by artist Seward Johnson find temporary home in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Mayfair neighborhood a temporary home for artist Seward Johnson's sculptures
Philadelphia's Mayfair neighborhood a temporary home for artist Seward Johnson's sculptures 02:31

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The next time you're in Mayfair, look around. New street art is lining Frankford Avenue, the Philadelphia neighborhood's main business corridor.

The artist behind the artwork is world-renowned sculpture artist Seward Johnson, the founder of the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.

"These statues have been all over the world, but they have never been in the city of Philadelphia," said Donny Smith, the Mayfair Improvement District's executive director. "I said let's bring them in, let's bring them to Mayfair."

Nine different life-sized statues dot the main business corridor from Princeton Avenue outside Stein's Florist to Bleigh Avenue outside Mayfair Diner.

"Residents deserve a nice place to live and hang out," Smith said. "A win for everybody."

The sculptures are on loan from the Seward Johnson Atelier. In his lifetime, Johnson created hundreds of sculptures. The Atelier said he was fascinated by ordinary life and encapsulated it in his art.

For instance, "Ambassador of the Streets" is a woman walking her dog.

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"Catching Up" is a man reading a newspaper.

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"Holier than Thou" is a man throwing away trash.

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Smith said for this installation he wanted the art to hit home for the people who live here.  

"I wanted to bring in as many pieces as I could to represent as many people as I could," Smith said. "This is an art deco-type neighborhood. They're going to connect with things like 'Rosie the Riveter' and with 'Embracing Peace' with the 'Sailor's Kiss.'"

Smith said his hope is when people see them, they'll interact with them and learn about the characters themselves.

"Seward wanted people to interact with them. That was his thing," Smith said. "So when people are up there hugging them or whatnot, that's fine. He's cool with it. Come to Mayfair. Check it out."

The sculptures will be on display until mid-September.

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